Boehner packing up his trademark hankies, merlot and Camels

AP News
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Posted: Sep 25, 2015 4:37 PM
Boehner packing up his trademark hankies, merlot and Camels

WASHINGTON (AP) — When John Boehner quits the Capitol next month, the Hill will lose a dash of color — and not just his oft-mocked orangey tan.

Some trademarks of Boehner's more than two decades in the House:

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BLUNT BOEHNERISMS

Here's how the speaker once described fellow U.S representatives: "We got 435 members. It's just a slice of America, it really is. We got some of the smartest people in the country who serve here, and some of the dumbest. We got some of the best people you'd ever meet, and some of the raunchiest. We've got 'em all."

At news conferences, Boehner's responses can be curt, humorous or downright odd.

Asked about a possible scenario for ending the 2013 partial government shutdown, he said: "If 'ands' and 'buts' were candy and nuts, then every day would be Christmas."

He dismissed a question about a fellow Republican's going-nowhere tax proposal with: "Blah, blah, blah, blah."

He's been known to start singing "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay, my, oh my, what a wonderful day" to the press and, indeed, mixed bits of the song into his resignation news conference Friday.

Another time, he blew off a question by puckering up and making kissy noises.

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CHOKING UP

You can rely on Boehner to cry about, well, just about anything.

He took over the speakership in 2011 wiping his eyes, and choked back tears. On Friday he swiped his nose with a hankie as he announced he'll leave Congress to resign Oct. 30. He's been bleary-eyed countless times in between.

When a reporter noted that Boehner appeared overcome with emotion while meeting Pope Francis on Thursday, the speaker deadpanned, "Really? What a surprise."

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HIS COMPLEXION

Boehner takes a lot of ribbing about his perpetual tan — or more accurately, his unusual hue. The best-known gibes on the subject came from President Barack Obama:

"We have a lot in common," the president quipped at the 2009 White House Correspondent's Dinner. "He is a person of color. Although not a color that appears in the natural world."

At another dinner, Obama joked that Boehner's fellow Republicans were giving the speaker "a harder time than they give me. Which means, orange really is the new black."

At times, Boehner sounds a little thin-skinned on the subject.

"Listen, I play golf, I ride a bike, I cut my own grass, my mother is dark-complected, so I'm a little dark," he told Jay Leno last year. "There's no tanning beds, no spray anything, never, not once ever, ever nothing."

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RED WINE AND CIGARETTES

Boehner isn't shy about his fondness for a nice wine and a drag on a Camel (the brand he took up when his beloved Barclays were discontinued). He finds symbolism in what others might call vices.

Recounting unsuccessful negotiations with Obama at the White House, Boehner told journalist Bob Woodward:

"All you need to know about the differences between the president and myself is that I'm sitting there smoking a cigarette, drinking merlot, and I look across the table and here is the president of the United States drinking iced tea and chomping on Nicorette."

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STORIES ABOUT HIS FATHER'S BAR

Boehner frequently reminisces about the life lessons he learned as a kid who "grew up in a bar" — a Cincinnati-area tavern called Andy's Cafe, opened by his grandfather and run by his father for decades.

The second-oldest of 12 kids, Boehner says he was put to work at an early age mopping floors, washing dishes, waiting tables, even pouring drinks.

"And you have to learn to deal with every jackass that walks in the door," the speaker said last year. "Trust me, I need all the skills I learned growing up to do my job."

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Follow Connie Cass on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ConnieCass